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HII delivers final San Antonio class LPD USS Richard M. McCool Jr..

| Naval News Navy 2024

According to information published by HII on April 15, 2024, Ingalls Shipbuilding division handed over the amphibious transport dock Richard M. McCool Jr. (LPD 29) to the U.S. Navy. This event, held at their Pascagoula facilities, marks the completion of the 13th San Antonio-class ship and the transition from Flight I to the next series of vessels.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Richard M. McCool Jr. (Picture source: HII)

Ingalls is already making progress on the next set of ships, with two Flight II LPDs, Harrisburg (LPD 30) and Pittsburgh (LPD 31), under construction and a third, Philadelphia (LPD 32), planned following a recent contract update.

San Antonio class

The San Antonio class, a fleet of amphibious transport docks also known as "landing platform, docks" (LPD), serves the United States Navy. These vessels are designed to replace the older Austin-class LPDs, including the Cleveland and Trenton subclasses, as well as the retired Newport-class tank landing ships, Anchorage-class dock landing ships, and Charleston-class amphibious cargo ships.

Initially, the plan was to build twelve ships in the San Antonio class, each projected to cost around $890 million. However, the actual construction costs have averaged about $1.6 billion per ship.

By December 2022, eleven of these warships were in active service, with three more under construction. In 2015, the Defense Authorization Act included funding for the twelfth ship of this class.

In 2018, the U.S. Navy embarked on an expansion of this class with the decision to construct an additional 13 ships, known as Flight II, bringing the total to 26 ships in the LPD 17 class.

The first of these, named LPD 30 or USS Harrisburg, marked the beginning of Flight II. This new class aimed to be more cost-effective, with the first ship's target price set at $1.64 billion and subsequent ships at $1.4 billion each.

These ships, including LPD 30, would feature enhanced capabilities like the Raytheon AN/SPY-6 Enterprise Air Surveillance Radar, an improvement over the AN/SPS-48 radar used in the earlier ships.

Flight II ships are set to fulfill roles currently managed by the Whidbey Island-class dock landing ships and will feature over 200 design changes from the Flight I ships. The enhancements include modifications to their well decks and expanded capabilities to support airport, seaport, and hospital operations.

As of March 2023, the U.S. Navy, under the guidance of Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro, proposed a temporary halt on further acquisitions beyond LPD-32. This strategic pause is intended to allow the Navy to reassess their needs and determine the appropriate number of ships required for future operations, with LPD-32 scheduled for purchase in the fiscal years of 2022-2023.

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